Why are the top b-school students so risk-averse? Its simple….
Quick Disclaimer: Business school was one of the best two years of my life, and I encourage everybody to attend if possible. I can confidently and truly say that it was a life changing experience for me and I met some of the most diverse and interesting people in my life at business school.
I recently had the privilege to speak at Kellogg, my MBA alma mater, to a group of prospective/aspiring entrepreneurs during the annual reunion weekend. My goal was to inspire and motivate (as previous speakers did to me) to pursue their dreams today, to make them understand that we are grown up now, and to convince that now was the time.
It was interesting speaking one year after graduating to a group of students who were exactly in the same position I was last year – inspired to do their own thing, free from the grind, and motivated after two years of controlling their own destiny, yet with looming loan payments, and within a system that encouraged (or pushed) you towards a corporate entity.
After one year out of business school, I had the opportunity to catch up with a lot of friends that I graduated with, people whom I highly respect and whose friendship I appreciate. There was one underlying current that I felt in my class, and that was one of unhappiness, and a cloudiness in future prospects. They had the stinking realization that they were back in the grind, exactly the reason they went to business school to get out of, they were just in another industry or a better company in the food chain, but really in the same place.
I had an interesting conversation with a good friend of mine who graduated from Ross Business School the same year as I did. I told him how shocked I was at this realization of how unhappy a good portion of my class was and how I couldn’t believe most of them didn’t have the foresight to see this coming. He broke it down so simply to me by saying, “Sid, most of the kids you went to school with are used to getting the highest grades, they are used to getting into the top schools, they are used to working for the best companies, they are used to getting a salary they think they expect; the one thing that scares them more than anything is failing, or trying something that isn’t perfectly laid out in front of them – they rather be unhappy, than fail”.
Unfortunately, it is true. The few (and I mean few) I do know who decided to do their own thing upon graduation might be scraping by today, but they are alive, they are happy, and they are still the masters of their destiny, and I know they won’t be scraping by a year from now. Those are the guys I like kicking it with.